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Orillia activist earns U of T's community development award

Orillia’s Tshweu Moleme says it is 'an honour to be recognized for community work done right here in Orillia and afar'

Orillia’s Tshweu Moleme has been selected by the University of Toronto's African Alumni Association as the winner of the Community Development award for his 'dedication to social justice, inclusion and fairness.'

Moleme, who was born in South Africa and lives in Orillia, is a labour activist and leader who is also a PhD student.

Moleme said he is thankful for the award, which he will receive via a virtual celebration Jan. 29, 2021.

“This is for my two Black sons,” he said. “I hope this will give them courage to continue to be and do good, even on the toughest of days. 

“The message here is simple: If you are honest and loyal with yourself, your family, and community, you can make it in life.”

He said the key is “hard and heart work, not selfishness.”

“It is especially such an honour to be recognized for community work done right here in Orillia and afar,” Moleme told OrilliaMatters. 

“I thank the University of Toronto community and the U of T African Alumni Association and affiliated sponsors for bestowing such a prestigious award upon me; truly an honour to be recognized among giants.”

He said the award is especially meaningful to him as a single father. 

“As they say, ‘Impossible is nothing!’ My boys and I will dedicate one of our dinner nights to celebrating this recognition. Great news for us, at a difficult time in our lives. This (community work) is our gift under the Christmas tree, this year.” 

Moleme is participating in a collaborative program at the U of T through the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE): Social Justice Education and Workplace Learning and Social Change.

According to the university, his research work is focused on areas such as labour, education, technology, the future of work, social change/justice, young workers, youth activism and unions in both Canada and South Africa.

He completed his honours BA at the U of T, where he majored in political science with minors in African Studies and Equity Studies with an undergrad senior thesis focusing on youth activities in South Africa. He holds an M. Ed from OISE.

Moleme is also a contributing columnist with Ottawa-based The Hill Times, where he writes about local and international politics.

He volunteers as a board member for several organizations including the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, Canada oldest premier public policy forum, which is transitioning into the Canadian International Council umbrella, of which he is now an advisory committee member, overseeing the organizational change.